Monday, March 03, 2014

Cartography



Grave
            Graven
                        Gravura
            Gravitas.
Graver.
            Engraver.

A typeface based on copperplate style,
Calligraphy
            Caliph
Cartography,
The maps of the heart show our provenance,
The journeys we’ve made, what we bring,
What we have gained.
Script
If not scrimshaw
Scroll work
Engravings
Engrained
Carving bone or ivory
Harvesting whalers’
Handiwork, byproduct of
What our DNA brings forward
As if carved into our
Choices as we make them,
Plainly
Once we open our eyes
As we take that one step at a time.

Don’t wait.

If scrolls are not read
When they’re ready they become relics,
Turned to stone and bone fragments
To be pieced together by
Men
Women
of another time,
Whiling away a present to seek
Seeds of a story they have
Forgotten.
           
Scrimshaw.

            Harvest.


from my new book

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Just Thinking

If the energy of our mind as we share our thoughts, ideas, etc., is simply to persuade others to share our view, then we are already seeing ourselves as “different.” We can be set up and set off by the ingrained pattern of “mutual hostility” or competition (hidden or overt belief).  This is a way that our male mind has seen itself throughout time, in many lives, as our ego has formed, developed, and strengthened as we have created beliefs to define or support our perception of life (the meaning of life).  This is one image that shows our belief in what survival means, rather than evolution. This is a dual image and as we learn and grow as a consciousness we enlighten ourselves with the loving image of who we are  – of us as male and female, rather than simply male or female, in the positive light of our creation as evolving consciousness. We come to know ourselves not as the Lone Warrior battling all forces which may obstruct us from obtaining our Holy Grail, but as the Pilgrim seeking to know himself as one within the world but sent and created of the Spirit – to be in AND of the world in its highest expression as evolving consciousness.

The “lone adventurer” ready to set off into the big, wide world, the Great Unknown that is full of danger, adventure, possibility. It is the same image of when we choose to enter another physical life – with all of the chemical poetry in motion as energy beings, reviewing, sharing, communicating in all sensory ways, then choosing the portal of entry, with consent, and “taking the plunge,” with full excitement as a soul to Begin Again – to learn, grow, to Be. This is the same image parents must have, and children must have, as babies are conceived, born, and nurtured until the day a child sets off for the first day of school – the new adventure, the precipice of a new life in a big world of other children, peers, beyond what we have experienced before. First day of school, first moment of awakening to a new spark of knowing, of knowledge, the first tying of a shoe, the first taste of… whatever awakens that love within us, the first moment of pedaling the tricycle faster and faster into a speed where we feel the independence of movement in a new way; jumping off of a high dive, diving into a pool for the first time, having a first haircut, a first kiss, singing a first song, or hearing one we instantly love, that sings to our cells in a way not like the others. All are part of this amazing Universal language of love within us and which we share through our interaction as physical beings on this Earth with its own expressions that we share and honor as we learn to love.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Stoner - I like Gatsby AND this "Anti-Gatsby"

John Williams
University of Denver photograph
I just finished John Williams’ 1965 novel, Stoner, a novel John McGahern describes in his introduction as “this classic novel of university life, and the life of the heart and the mind.” It’s a powerhouse of a book – I imagine even for those who have less affection and affinity for “university life” or the pull toward both the flashy polish of Gatsby and the austere precision of Stoner than I have.  Williams’ precise use of words to convey so much so simply is a true gift and a rare one.  He captures the truth of personalities and the energy of their expression in wonderful and thoughtful ways, and by doing so offers an endless palate of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to think about, appreciate, explore, and to learn from.  It is very sad in its seemingly relentless sense of isolation, yet reading Stoner is like an excursion into a certain kind of art gallery – old masters, the musty sense of reverence for “pure knowledge,” the life of the mind and of learning, and a persistent quiet reverie as the reader absorbs all that is happening in this intense microcosm which expands into a whole world and reverberates beyond. Love, lust, and learning all make an appearance, each given life in particular ways.  The “meaning of life,” of a particular life and lives, is laid bare for inquiring minds and hearts to know themselves. To read this is an honor – is to honor Williams for his creation, and to honor the gift of life itself, which we all share.  Without honor and the Values of the Spirit which begin with love and are expressed with a quiet but firm and growing dignity (which comes from learning and experience), we are left with sadness and the pettiness of confusion and the false power that the ego wields.  There is much poetic beauty in Williams’ language of “love becoming,” even as he describes the way the softness of snow, the whiteness of the sky suffused with snow, the permeating silence which invites the mind into a state beyond the nature it has known and experienced before.

The saddest thing to me may be what Tim Kreider wrote in his October 2013 New Yorker review - that wisdom is "perennially out of style." The popularity of the novel in Europe makes sense to me. Older sensibilities learn that loss does not necessarily lead to "failure."

“In his extreme youth Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access; in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart.” (195)
Something I wrote a few nights ago fit into the influence of his book more than I realized, until I read the last few pages.


Nautilus.
                Spiralling into me.
The book between worlds
The pages
Walking the pages
As if struck by chords
Harmony falling
Sounding and falling
We are holding on
Thin wisps of light
Gleaming, powerful
Beaming like strings
Moonlight
                Into morning
A new day, hope
And words illuminated.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Love, Sweet Love

Ah, Christmas. There is no substitute for spending the holidays with family. There is no true substitute for family, however we may define it. In the days before Christmas and through the holiday, I thought a lot about love and what love means. I remembered holidays past, and people I’ve known and love – including, of course, my wonderful parents, givers of life. Flashes of memory ran through my mind as I drove toward the coast – memories of when we were children, the excitement of the holiday as we trimmed the spindly tree and thought of that land far away which was our “home,” where others were celebrating the holiday perhaps in snow or with Christmas Eve services and caroling and shopping and sharing all kinds of traditions. Our families had shopped for presents and mailed them at least six weeks early in hopes of the gifts arriving between the US and Nigeria “on time.” My brother was a child enchanted by the idea of Christmas, and gifts wrapped so beautifully, awaiting the unveiling on Christmas morning. He tiptoed around the tree, studying the presents and shaking many of them, thinking so intently about them and what they might hold. He was left with a profound impression of how much stuff there was and how many have so little.

As generations grow and change, such memories bring such pleasure as new ones are added and build upon one another – intertwining and stacking with beauty and care in the same way the gifts do, awaiting unveiling.

Making memories as we share each other’s company, getting a glimpse into each other’s lives as we honor the year’s passing and the new year beginning. “This is where we are now,” we say, silently.  “Isn’t it amazing!”

What each life means. My six-year-old niece, so full of joy, is a gift to me too, each time I am in her presence – as all children are.  I am reminded of the pure joy of being, and the happiness that is our true birthright. We share what is ours, if we truly enjoy life and appreciate what it means to give and receive, and love grows. Love is how we are designed to live and to grow, together, whether in physical presence or not. The energy of who we are, as love, lingers and lives, throughout the days, nights, throughout the year, until we meet again and whenever we meet, whomever we meet and become, if we are willing to accept it and share it.  Honoring (living) love as our greatest birthright and tradition is the greatest gift I can imagine. Choosing to love satisfies our soul and spirit like nothing else too. This may seem obvious, but what is obvious to me is what the world needs now is love, sweet love. Knowledge of the truth of love is an eternal gift to any mind.

Last night we watched a 2012 recording of the awarding of the Gershwin Prize to Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Among other wonderful performances, the program included Bacharach singing What The World Needs Now. A perfect tribute, and true always.


Monday, December 09, 2013

Satisfaction

What can she “get away with”?

I’ve read this from critics about a virtuoso classics scholar who takes myths and writes new ones based on the structures of the old ones. What’s to get away with, when we are building on structures with meaning? Garnering awards on the one hand and being asked such questions on the other.

Artists of all kinds are asked these questions – or the critics, the public, ask them. What does it mean to “get away with”?

To me, the getting-away-with, in its best light comes from pushing a line of accepted tradition or story or image or belief a little beyond, or sometimes far beyond, where it has settled, and still gaining respect for the integrity of the internal form of creation, the life still humming. This is not crafting a machine, elegant as it may be, but the nourishing of a thought-form, which lives as it is designed and created  and which lives further through the interaction of sharing it – the reading, the seeing, the verbalization, the expectation and breathless anticipation then the birth, the ogling, the possibilities set free and the imaginations excited.

The art of “getting away with” shows when respect is earned through the expression – the individual power of the energy expression, the example of living and breathing form.
Turn to me, she says, though her expression is stoic. The playfulness is inherent, visible in the glow and the intimate knowledge when seen. Watch.

Perhaps Nelson Mandela did this too.  His mischievous nature and quick, bright, warm smile did not belie but was part of the ramrod straight, steel-willed man who was constantly open to examining his life and the purpose, the objectives for which he lived. He knew that the purpose of life was so profound, the purpose of what we devote our lives, our energies to, is so profound that to be willing to commit our energies totally to it, to living this primary focus is to be willing to die for the same purpose.  Our commitment to life and death is equal, as our honoring of change and growth and freedom is complete. The commitment is not separate, but total. And without playfulness, and a sense of humor about ourselves and life, joy is not complete.
Enlightenment of our minds from our heart’s total intention to love and to contribute to the external common and greater good is one of the greatest purposes we can have and live as human beings.

Does how we define freedom change with the times, with events in our lives? Isn’t this one definition of learning?

As Mandela said, yesterday I was a “terrorist.” Today I am accepted as a freedom fighter. More todays and he is accepted as a leader, president, even symbol. Today we have a history to view through many lenses and with many voices and visions. What we choose defines us.

How do we choose/decide except through the living?

Choice by choice, and the strength that comes from that freedom, brings us the power that is inherent in experience, the joy and sorrow bundled together with sparkles and tears, endurance and infinite patience.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Sinking, Rising, Kneading, Knowing

 J
ust start, Maria heard. The temples that were the trees let in harmony as the sun caressed and stressed the importance of its rays with the heat of life. We awoke with the brightness nearly blinding and watched transfixed as the light changed moment by moment as the sun traveled across the sky and the blanket of horizon deepened and moved and opened itself to the dark of night and the slivering moon with its silvery light.

We learn to roll with the punches of life, and as we do we learn that the punches are the tides of change.

Maria knew that all change would come to her as courage if only she was patient enough. She had learned that to wait is an art for the mind. Waiting is not always a passive act. Active waiting of an alert mind is a mind learning to be alert, to be open to the opportunities that present themselves in the smallest of ways.

Mark is the man she waits for, though he does not know it yet. She feels that within him is the fulfillment of many dreams, though she is not able to enumerate them.

To write each day is akin to being alert to one’s thoughts, to being open to the script that our thoughts, words, and behaviors become. Each page is a day of our life, and the script we live as we write. The skin of our body is our power grid, our solar panel, our sensor, our love. For some, our tattoo parlor, our body armor.

As Maria sits at her computer to write, her fingers hovering above the keys, she knows that each channel in her mind is awaiting expression. Which is ready to know itself in this new moment, to add to all of the experience she has expressed in her being of life?

I remember the smell of yeast, of bread baking, the way the dough moved as I kneaded it, the way the salt smelled and the way the oven seemed ready to swallow each offering and give it back in golden loaves. This repetitious act, in and out of the oven, sliding in, pulling out, became a rhythm she loved. The steadiness of it had its own hypnotic motion, and the ease with which all moved together to complete the motion was a wonderful reminder to her of the connective tissue of all of life. Each part of that cycle has its place, its excited addition to the ritual of life that bread reminds us of.

She saw his growing beard, almost a symbol of quick growth even in drought.  There is something to his scratching at the hair growing just under his chin – both an itch and a distraction that occupies thoughts that may seek to go elsewhere, into new virgin ground.
I am the person I am made to be, she thought to herself. Cake-maker, dog-walker, ephemera-lover.  There is so much to hold in the skull that holds my brain of quivering mass, the dark hair like my mother’s that clothes the bones of my head.

 Dance, dance, the lightfish say, as my dreams come back and forth, full of the memory of water and of sinking and rising, of bread rising and falling, of volcanoes building earth and organism and heat and cold into an inimitable creation of explosion, hot lava rocks spewing like a mixer throwing cocoa batter like paint onto the walls and beyond.

Mark is a sauntering personality, wary and unsure except full of ideas and all he has heard, read, and relates to. His sharp eyes show tears, happiness easily yet fleetingly. His thoughts search his brain database, aiming for relations, curious about people’s faces, full of his own talk.

Sebald said once that he did not consider himself a writer. More like the writing is a dedication, an obsession – building a model of the Eiffel Tower with matchsticks. Exploring the nuances of the fog of the past, which reveals pathways along the moors and the cobblestone streets as the writing happens.

Maria remembers Sebald’s words, the “highway hypnosis” of the kind he mentions and explores – our being hypnotized by what we call life, the pull of sadness that is our destructive nature as we wander in a deep forest of glimmering light.

Mark would talk about this for a while, no doubt – his remembering all kinds of details of his life, throwing out bits and pieces of his parents, his siblings, days at school, the chalkboard, the keyboard, the bright blue car he drove and the sun glinting from the sparkling hood which made him feel happy and powerful. They were pieces, though, not with a fully fulfilled sense of life that let him feel he was born to be powerful, not beaten down, not having to prove that he earned the sparkling blue happiness as he lived, as he loved.

This is Maria’s view of him, even as she laughs with him, loves his tugging at his beard, at his slight pot belly, at his eager curiosity which flags easily but remains.

Bring me one more order, she calls to her friend – I can make one more cake today! Her latest joy is this German Chocolate Surprise, which has all the expected ingredients and also organic oats, coconut, and some buttercream with raspberries to add new surprise. The textured flavors were delightful to a lover of such things.

We are all heart, she says to her satisfied customer who calls, gushing over the Valentine’s Day cake she ordered especially for her one great love. Even he loved it! Her customer exclaimed. He couldn’t stop staring at it. Said he never thought about cake-making as an art before, except wedding cakes. There’s a lot more to life than weddings, I said. Think of everyday as a merging, as lists of mergers happening and lining up to happen as moments tick by. Bidding happens. Celebrating, weeping, highs, lows, and the drips, drops, beams, rush and touch of life- just watch. Listen. Learn.

Sebald said he was hardly interested in the future. We can be captured by illusions of the past. The past can tell us everything we need to know, if we open our eyes and keep them open except when we are sleeping. Then our many eyes will keep recording and we will awaken to more upon morning.

Maria touches Mark when they pass in the hallway. He looks up, distracted. She smiles into his eyes, reaching for that past which makes him up, the illusions which shine, the glimmers of truth which are so playful and ready.

Have your cake and eat it, too. She smiles to herself, but all who know will see it shining from her diamond mind. Mark tugs at his beard, deep in thought.
###




Thursday, December 05, 2013

After Reading Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson

After Reading Autobiography of Red, Anne Carson









To remember
the lavaman and his other skin,
the gold burn like enveloping
the sun, what bursts he can 
hold
growing bold

and maybe a little
afraid-
asking for those who may be curious,
and bold, a
little afraid, to pay cents
to touch his golden skin, to know
a little of him, this passion for
substance and for naming
objects by name, for what
they are, at least for this moment
in hopes and time
and open-aired graciousness
from the faint memory of 
what human can mean,

can be

fragments float in, up,
gently, if wondered about
and the mind, with love,
invites them.

In this, his case
the red, the wings, the
otherworldly things, with what
sun buried on the inside,
consciously claiming the inside
as "mine"!
as lines are defined
and become known.